What is homeopathy?
Homeopathy is an effective system of medicine that uses minute doses of substances to stimulate the body to heal itself. It focuses on getting to the root cause of any illness. When dealing with chronic conditions, it regards the whole person rather than specific symptoms; it also regards psychological and emotional states as being more important than physical symptoms. It often brings unconscious states of mind and suppressed emotions that are at the root of chronic illness into conscious awareness.
Homeopathy’s therapeutic action is based upon the principle of like cures like. This principle was first recognised by Hippocrates, the founder of modern medicine, in the fifth century BC. Like cures like means that healing can be stimulated by giving a sick person a minute dose of a substance that would cause similar symptoms to the illness in a healthy person.
Nobody has been able to prove how homeopathy works, but there is strong clinical and anecdotal evidence that it does. It is used extensively across the world, both for the treatment of humans and in veterinary practice. Homeopathic remedies help the body’s own vital force and defence system to re-establish harmony in the body. They work with the body’s own efforts to heal itself. Healing usually takes place in the reverse direction to which the disease developed. Consequently, it is not unusual for old symptoms to reoccur and for emotional or psychological problems that have been suppressed to come to the surface. It may be necessary for these symptoms to be treated in order for healing to continue.
Another unusual aspect of homeopathy is that the smaller the dose of the substance given, the greater the potency of the remedy. This has baffled science – especially because the higher potency remedies no longer contain any of the original substance used to make the remedy.
What does homeopathy involve?
A practitioner will carry out an in-depth consultation in order to get a complete picture of you as a person before prescribing a homeopathic remedy that matches your specific symptoms. This is done because homeopathy treats the whole person rather than specific symptoms. She or he will be interested in the reasons why you have come for a consultation and will want to know a lot about you and what makes you tick. For example, are you very talkative? Are you always cold? Are you always thirsty? Some questions may be of a personal nature, and it is important that you feel at ease with your practitioner. It is worth thinking about the following things before you arrive at your first consultation:
- How would you describe yourself as a person?
- Do you have any psychological or emotional problems?
- Are there any recurring patterns in your life (e.g., bad relationships?)
- What makes your condition worse? For example, upon wakingup, after a meal, during damp weather, or after exercise.
- When did your illness start?
- Do you have any peculiar sensations or unusual symptoms?
- Can you remember any particular incidents in your life that really upset you. Was there an illness or trauma that you never really recovered from?
After building up a detailed picture of you as a client, the homeopath will select a remedy that matches your overall constitution and personality and also relates to the specific symptoms you are concerned about. She or he will advise you when and how to take the remedy. The remedy itself will usually be in the form of a small tablet that is dissolved in the mouth. You should avoid eating for at least a half hour before and after taking a remedy, and avoid coffee and strong or pungent foods during the period of treatment.
Occasionally, you may experience an aggravation (a worsening of symptoms) for a short period of time after taking a remedy. This is usually a good sign because it indicates that the remedy is working and the healing process has commenced. You may also experience emotional or physical release as the body seeks to rid itself of suppressed emotions and toxins. Again, this is usually a good sign, but it means that you need to relax and may need emotional support. If the emotional release is very strong, you may benefit from other supportive therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). These will help you release any underlying patterns of thoughts or beliefs that led to these emotions.
What conditions does homeopathy help?
Because homeopathy works by tackling the root cause of illness, it is useful in dealing with chronic conditions that may not be responding well to conventional medicine. For chronic conditions, it is best used alongside conventional treatment. Homeopathy can also be helpful in alleviating many acute conditions. These include minor injuries, sprains, bruising, and an upset stomach.
Is homeopathy safe?
Homeopathic remedies are very safe because the substances from which they are made are extremely diluted and can have no toxic effect on the body. Homeopathy may be used by everyone, including young children, elderly people, and pregnant women – although some remedies are not advised during pregnancy. You should make sure you see a properly qualified homeopath to ensure you receive the best advice and treatment.